The 13th Doha Forum has convened, with your loyal correspondent in attendance. It is an impressive gathering, filling the luxurious Ritz-Carlton. Cars are checked for bombs before approaching the hotel. Guests have to go through a metal detector both entering the hotel and inside heading to the conference. The meeting room was full, with just about every citizen of Qatar (who only make up something like 15 percent of the population) seeming to line the hallway before the Emir arrived.
There are few more tragic figures than onetime national leaders who have fallen away from the centers of power. For instance, after the Qatar royals, who still do matter, opened the gathering, to the stage strode a frustrated former British prime minister trying to remain relevant. The Right Honorable Gordon Brown, who finally grabbed the premiership from his frenemy Tony Blair only to lose it in the 2010 election, twice quoted John F. Kennedy while chattering on about the importance of interdependence.
Brown also urged the creation of a North African-Middle Eastern development bank to promote economic growth in such nations as Egypt—which, he failed to note, has been buried in foreign aid for years without generating economic growth. The former PM was introduced as preventing a new Great Depression (who knew!) and later lauded for his “profound” ideas (apparently defined as previously advanced by his hosts in Qatar).
Francois Fillon, a former prime minister of France, followed, telling us that we needed to solve the Syrian conflict, create a Middle Eastern financial institution, and “defend European civilization,” whatever that means. The moderator declared his ideas to be “fascinating” and his mention of Europe to be an example of “self-reflection.”
Amadou Bondou, the vice president of Argentina—which has made a practice of looting the productive and stealing people’s retirement savings—denounced austerity. These policies are having “negative repercussions” on poor people, he complained. No doubt, they are. However, if you have a wild party, you can’t very well expect everyone else to pay the clean-up costs. Next time countries, especially his own, should think before blowing their budgets to enrich favored interests and win votes.
Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, concluded the first session with a discussion about the importance of solving the Syrian conflict. He suggested a comprehensive conference to end the fighting and conduct of proxy wars in the region. Alas, what evidence is there that the parties are prepared to settle or that their backers are prepared to stay out? He also urged more humanitarian assistance for Syrians. He worried that if the Europeans fail to give more aid they may be left with no friends at all in Syria. Given the way that conflict is going, why would that be such a bad thing? Trying to make friends is about the dumbest reason one can imagine for getting involved in such a war.
Well, that’s the start here in Doha. I just can’t wait for additional “fascinating” observations from more “profound” thinkers like Messrs. Brown, Fillon, Bondou, and Ischinger!
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Qatar sovereign wealth fund pulling money out of financial markets at the moment
Posted on 29 September 2012
The head of the Qatar sovereign wealth funds told CNBC yesterday that he is a seller at the moment. When the world’s most avaricious buyer turns seller then you have to ask what is holding these markets up.
Maria Bartiromo talked global politics, oil and gas along with Qatar’s key sovereign wealth fund investments with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al Thani .
‘There are some questions with no answer,’ he said. ‘It is natural to me for Asia to slow down, is it a soft landing or not? The central banks and governments have to come together but politicians have to make it happen.
‘At the moment we sell, not a lot because I believe the market will soften… We try to be very cautious. But our strategic holdings stay and we will buy more when markets go down…’
His Highness also discussed how the civil war in Syria could be stopped… and his hopes for a US-led, post-presidential election solution for the region.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:49 am
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Australia – Arab farm investment 13 May 2012
The purchase of 40,000ha at Telopea Downs, in far western Victoria is close to the final piece of the land purchasing puzzle for Hassad Australia, who’s parent company Hassad Foods is owned by the Qatar Government.
After officially confirming the Telopea Downs purchase last week, Hassad Australia chief executive Tom McKeon said the company was well advanced in its business plan.
He said Hassad Australia now owned 250,000ha of farmland over Queensland, NSW, Victoria and WA.
“We’re getting towards the end of our business plan now in terms of purchasing land.”
Mr McKeon said since establishing itself in Australia three years ago, the company had been particularly selective about where it bought land.
“The properties are spread over a wide geographic area, so we limit our exposure to production risk – we don’t want to be too exposed in any one area for climate, disease and other risk reasons.”
With this in mind, the company now has a property at Cunnamulla in south-western Queensland, properties at Warren and Trangie in central western NSW, Canowindra on the southern slopes in NSW, Moyston and Strathdownie in Victoria’s Western District, with the new Telopea Downs purchase in Victoria’s Wimmera, and Bindi Bindi, near Moora, Jerramungup and Esperance in Western Australia.
“The focus will be on grain production and livestock, in particular sheep, we wanted to put together relatively large properties in each area to bolt together an aggregation large enough to achieve economies of scale.”
Hassad Australia is predominately east coast focused, with just 27,000ha in WA, along with one part of the Telopea Downs aggregation falls just across the border into SA.
There was a deliberate decision making process in terms of which areas the company selected.
“The plan is based on both a cost / benefit analysis and the reliability of the area,” Mr McKeon.
“The risk profile is something we look at closely.
Even with the purchase of Telopea Downs, traditionally regarded as marginal country by many Wimmera farmers, Mr McKeon said research had found the area was actually very reliable.
“It might not be a high rainfall area, but it does have a reliable productivity which is attractive to Hassad Australia.”
He also said the opportunity to value-add the investment, in the case of Telopea Downs by clay-spreading, which has become a popular practice in the area, improving productivity considerably, was also a factor.
“We’ve been very strategic about where we have invested, we’ve chosen places that have the potential to be aggregated and improved.”
Finally, Mr McKeon said a decision was made regarding how potential purchases would strategically fit in with the nearby properties.
“In Victoria, for example, we have two properties that can get pretty wet, so Telopea is a good offset, which is a lot drier and warmer.
We will be looking at ways the farms can complement each other.”
He said the company would focus on grains, primarily hard wheat production and livestock, in particular meat breed sheep.
Most of the east coast properties Cunnamulla in QLD, Warren, Trangie and Canowindra in NSW, Moyston and Strathdownie in VIC, will be predominantly livestock, while the cropping will be done at the Central West NSW properties and in WA.
The Strathdownie property, ‘Kaladbro’, also includes a feedlot.
“Cattle will complement the sheep in some areas, but sheep are certainly the main focus.”
“It’s the same with the cropping, we will be growing other rotational crops, but hard wheat is the focus.”
The split across the entire business will roughly be a third cropping and two-thirds livestock,.
Mr McKeon did not comment on how much grain the company would produce, but based on local yields in the areas the company is cropping it is expected it would come in between 170,000 and 180,000 tonnes in an average year if wheat was the major crop.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat May 12, 2012 10:44 pm
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